Going Gray For My Girls
Author pictured with her daughter
In the fog of early parenthood, I came across articles written by mothers embracing stretch marks and bathing suits.
Every wrinkle, pudge, or scar had become an anthem of pride, a testament to survival, an embodiment of cherished memories made possible by bringing humans into this world.
I got it… kind of.
I wanted to believe them and to embrace my morphed body.
Seven years and one pandemic later, I get it. Oh, do I get it.
I’m not brazen with bathing suits (I’ll occasionally squeeze into for an underwater tea party), and I can (for now) cover the spider veins.
But what I choose not to cover, not to mask is my gray hair.
And in the last year, it’s proliferated.
It’s like a few friends each invited five friends, who then invited ten more friends, and they’ve all set up camp above my forehead.
I might as well walk around with a neon flashing sign that says, “Look!”
But that’s not necessary. My seven-year-old daughters remind me every few days that the grays are multiplying.
But today, instead of trying to change the subject, I gleefully told them, “Yes, that’s where I hold all my wisdom.”
“It’s where all of my experiences, all of my knowledge is kept,” I said.
Wheels started turning.
“Does that mean everyone with has gray hair is wise?” one daughter asked.
“Is that why Papa has gray in his beard?” the other chimed in.
“Yes,” I replied. “And it’s why lots of other people have gray hair. They’re very special because you can only get gray hair after you’ve lived through a lot.”
It took a loooong time to get here. I’ve dyed my hair three times. I’m still shaky in this #truth. My daughters’ comments used to stew in my mind, churning over and over. Hours later, I’d scroll through social media and it was like a subconscious antenna sought images of ‘beautiful’ women with perfectly colored hair.
I still see them.
My daughters keep commenting on the grays, but now in the same breath they say, “you have so much wisdom!”
I can’t break down Western standards of beauty all by my lonesome. But I can embody a positive message of aging so my daughters and nieces admire gray hair, call it out as beautiful, and #embracethegray when it’s their turn.
These gray hairs are my anthem of pride for living a life with courage, conviction and humility.
Those gray hairs are a testament to survival when life threw curveballs and I kept going, even when I had no idea what I was doing.
And these over here embody cherished memories made possible by bringing three humans into this world.
Wait - why is it so hard to publish this article?
If I do, will friends and family stop the double-takes and comments about how gray I’ve turned?
If I do, will feminists berate me if I dye my hair in the future?
If I don’t, what does that say about owning my truth?
If I don’t, what message does that send to my children?
Dammit - I’m going for it.
Like what you've read? Sign up for Human Dispatches, a newsletter where I share all I've learned to inspire conversations.